Iodine Deficiency and Seaweed

seaweed and iodine deficiencyIs iodine deficiency common?

Since 2007, the World Health Organisation has recognised a national problem of iodine insufficiency in the UK, Ireland, Italy and a handful of other developed countries, as well as most African nations.

Research suggests 76% of teenage girls and 66% of adult women in Britain are iodine deficient. This means they consume less than the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of 0.15mg a day.

This lack of iodine is partly due to the use of pesticides in modern farming, which have reduced natural levels in our soils. Processed foods and free-from diets prevent what’s left reaching our plates.


Where does iodine come from?

Iodine is a mineral that ensures the thyroid functions properly. The thyroid is a gland in the neck which produces hormones that regulate your heart, metabolism and cognitive abilities. Iodine also plays an important role in physical and mental development in early life.

Seaweed, eggs, fish and milk are good sources of iodine. In seaweed, iodine quantities vary by species, but they’re all an excellent source.


What happens if my thyroid doesn’t function properly?

Some of the signs of an underactive thyroid include weight gain, lack of focus, forgetfulness, decreased energy, dry skin and feeling cold all the time. In pregnant women, it can have detrimental effects on the development of their children.

In developing countries, severe iodine deficiency causes goitre, a swelling in the neck, and stunted growth in children.

Medically diagnosed iodine deficiency is known as hypothyroidism and is more common in menopausal women.


How do I treat an underactive thyroid?

Most people would benefit from an iodine boost, and it only takes small changes in your diet. The easiest way is to eat more seaweed. Seaweed is the most concentrated form of natural iodine, easily absorbed by the body.

If your thyroid is borderline, or you have some of the symptoms, you may find consuming more iodine makes a big difference to you.


Seaweed is the best source of iodine

Iodine can also be manufactured and added to salt, or taken in supplements. Iodized salt and iodine supplements contain potassium iodide, which is absorbed very quickly and then excreted again within three hours.

However, the natural iodine in seaweed is absorbed slowly and excreted if and when needed. This creates a more stable, steady supply of iodine for the thyroid. Seaweed also provides many more nutrients than just iodine, offering a wider range of health benefits than salt or supplements.


How much iodine do I need?

There are two figures to consider, Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) and Tolerable Upper Limit (TUL).

Recommended Daily Intake is the amount of a nutrient which meets the day-to-day requirements of most healthy people. Tolerable Upper Limit is the greatest quantity you could consume without adversely affecting your health. Both are affected by biological factors and where you live.

The World Health Organisation and the US set an RDI of 0.15mg and a TUL of 1mg, whilst the EU suggests an RDI of 0.6 mg and 1.1mg as TUL. However, pregnant and breastfeeding women require more iodine than the general population; about 0.25mg daily.

Facts and figures aside, the important thing to remember is to listen to your body.


Can I have too much iodine?

On the whole the UK population is not at risk of excessive iodine consumption, and natural iodine the body doesn’t need is usually rapidly excreted. In rare cases, too much iodine can over-stimulate the thyroid and lead to hyperthyroidism. If you’re feeling dizzy and suspect you’ve had too much iodine, drink plenty of water to flush out the excess.


Choose Mara Seaweed

A 2g serving of Mara’s Dulse or Shony is enough to provide your RDI of iodine. For Kombu, only 1g is needed. Our expertise guarantees you nutrient-rich seaweed from pristine waters, chosen for its flavour and quality.

Mara Seaweed is easily added to your meals, far more enjoyable than taking a pill and much more delicious. If you want to know more about how our seaweed helps iodine deficiency, take a look at our in-depth customer case study or explore our further reading resources.

Already convinced? Visit our seaweed shop.

Need further convincing? Read our customer case study.


Always consult your doctor before ceasing medication or making major changes to your diet.